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Drought Watch: Getting More Pop per Drop

David Lesher February 13, 2015
OrovilleRiver

This is part of a continuing series on the impact of the drought.

With the state still facing drought conditions, the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee held a hearing yesterday titled “Water: State and Local Funding Relationships and the 2015-16 Governor’s Budget.”

PPIC senior fellow Ellen Hanak testified to the panel about the recent history of the state’s water finance. (Here is her slide presentation.) She noted that California has been relying increasingly on state bonds to finance water projects, using six bonds to raise almost $20 billion between 2000 and 2006, in addition to the $7.5 billion bond that voters passed last November.

She recommended that the state gather more information on water use so that water can be fairly allocated when supplies are low. She also said the state Fish and Wildlife Department is doing a good job managing ecosystems during the drought but that California could benefit from a more strategic plan to do so, as Australia adopted during its recent drought.

Noting that the state needs to find ways to stretch scarce water supplies, Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said he was going to adopt a line from Ellen’s testimony as the “mantra” for the committee: “greatest pop per drop.”

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